12 April 2012

How To Overcome The Lack of Customer Service Whilst Looking For A Job

In an article written for a British tabloid newspaper, the title of the piece implied: 'The British do not do Good Customer Service!' Quite damning and overarching statement to make, it was an account of a journalist's experience within the hospitality industry. Well i do not know about your experience, but certainly from my experience and those i speak with, i would not begrudge that statement in that the level of good let alone excellent customer service is very sparse. So how do you overcome the sometimes arrogant and conceited tone of voice when working with service professionals supposedly there to help you find work.

There is no doubt that there are a lot of very good companies out there, with excellent and professional staff employed, assisting people with finding jobs and opportunities, and though that is reassuring, there is a minority, that often speaks louder, and if you ever needed proof, in the UK, there is an institute of customer service (www.instituteofcustomerservice.com) setup in 1997 to lead the performance and professionalism of the industry, with more than 300 organisations and almost 7000 individual members. Each year, organisations vie for its coveted customer service awards, no doubt a sign that companies are seeing customer service as having a tangible benefit for their businesses. If you want further information or a story on great customer service, have a read up on Zappos.com, recently acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion dollars, after just 10 years in existence.

It is really frustrating as a professional within the industry to hear of poor customer service from others as well as being a recipient on numerous occasions, and yet people have the audacity about some people unfortunately reacting when faced with poor customer service. It is certainly much more difficult to change a society or a part of it if what you give is negativity and bad feeling. And there lies the key! Customer service among the best definitions i have seen to date, states, 'it is a feeling that a product or service has met the customer's expectation.' So perhaps we as professionals should be asking ourselves the question, what feeling are we leaving with our customers when they leave us? Or who cares, which is the feeling i get sometimes, after all, it's all about making money. Reminiscent of another group of people - gangsters, only difference is in their form of weaponry. Like Mahatma Gandhi said: 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world.'

Dealing with the subject of customer service as a topic is worthy of much more debate, particularly in the UK where in my experience, it is very poor, to an extent some commentators have requested for an olympic size improvement in our delivery of quality customer service, especially as we are just months away from one of the biggest events ever to come to the shores of the United Kingdom for a generation - London 2012 Olympics.

And so, in encountering poor customer service whilst looking for work, i would like to borrow a phrase from the Nobel Laureate and Irish playwright and also co-founder of the London School of Economics, George Bernard Shaw, who observed that all progress was dependent on the unreasonable person. His point being the reasonable person looks to adapt himself to the world, while the unreasonable seeks to adapt the world to him/herself, and as such, for any change of consequence we must look unto the unreasonable person.

In short, this article is about taking control of your job search and your career, long gone are the days when you could simply turn up and expect to be hired for a job without going the extra mile. So despite some of the fantastic support systems out there, you cannot afford to leave your destiny in someone else's hands, this does not mean necessarily we should all look to be the next Bill Gates, what this article is about is if you are not happy about something, for example, poor customer service from a job agency, stay positive and look elsewhere, speak to more people, make more contacts as there are certainly a lot more good guys than bad. Indeed i feel the future of recruitment will continue to evolve into more self reliance (think of what is already happening with peer to peer money lending e.g. zopa) for finding work through use of technology platforms which have spawned the likes of Linkedin, Facebook and the increasing array of micro job sites such as guru.com and elance.com. Freelancers in the UK now stands at a record level of 1.2 million, with an equal record number of self employed people being registered, at just over 4million.

Keen to hear other people's opinion on this article and in particular your experience of customer service with agencies and other employment bodies.

Femi Yusoof


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